No risks, no rewards

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Candace Stuart - 14.49 Kb
Candace Stuart, editor

There are risks and rewards with the use of health IT, several studies and reports suggest. That doesn’t mean we should avoid using the technology, but rather we should apply it knowing that few systems—and their human operators—are infallible.

For instance, a recent study in PLoS Medicine showed that the use of electronic prescribing systems in inpatient settings reduced procedural prescribing rates by more than 90 percent. Clinical errors dropped an impressive 44 percent with e-prescribing.

On the other hand, what the researchers described as system-related errors offset some of the gains. System-related errors, such as selecting the wrong item on a drop-down menu, accounted for 35 percent of introduced errors. It is a mistake anyone who wrestles with a mouse and electronic forms has made at some point or another.

Social media presents another opportunity for building networks and communicating with key audiences. While is easy for hospitals to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, it takes careful planning and oversight to manage such programs effectively.

“I won’t tell you that you have to join Facebook or set up a Twitter account, but your patients and staff are using these tools,” said Paul Anderson, director in charge of risk management publications at ECRI Institute. “Healthcare managers would be shortsighted not to consider both the risks and benefits that social media presents.”

Social media provides visibility and insights on public perceptions, according to a webinar by HealthWorks Collective. One part of social media many administrators fear—the public airing of gripes—provides an opportunity to detect problems and correct them, the presenters pointed out.

Some system-related errors are fixable. Designers can observe where and how errors are made to develop a more user-friendly interface. And some social media risks such as what appears to be reputational damage may prove to be positive if they show a hospital listens.

Candace Stuart
Cardiovascular Business, editor
CStuart@cardiovascularbusiness.com